With a new wave of disruptions expected to stall significant parts of the American economy in the coming months, the logistics of keeping supply chain issues to a minimum once again hinges on the ability to train and hire truckers. America is currently short of an estimated 80,000 commercial licensed drivers, with those numbers expected to double by 2028.
The trucking industry has faced significant challenges in recruiting new members due to demographics, generational changes, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic that sent every industry into a spiral as the economy went through major adjustments. Newly trained truck drivers also face roadblocks to a high paying job due to the lack of examiners causing a backlog of up to three months or more. Commercial driver testing delays have resulted in over $1.5 billion in economic losses across the United States, and even greater losses can be expected in the future if major changes are not put in place.
The solution to these problems starts with hiring and training more truck drivers. As part of our commitment to safely getting more drivers on the road, CVTA members are recruiting and training a new generation of drivers. In order to keep this mission alive, federal workforce development programs like WIOA need to be reauthorized, funded, and enhanced to meet the demand for truck drivers. Third party testing should also be implemented in every state as this accommodation has been proven to reduce delays in testing, which means students can obtain their CDLs quickly and avoid delays. Finally, opening up CDLs to those who are 18-20 is another way of ensuring the need for drivers is met. While all these implementations must be done with safety at the forefront, these policy changes are essential.
Because our consumer-based economy is not likely to slow down, the demand for more truckers is unlikely to subside anytime soon. While supply-chain disruptions are an inevitability with the changing landscape, there are substantial steps that can be taken to put additional truckers safely on the road.